California Marines Killed in Al Anbar Province
Kelli Harrell saw something different in Marine Staff Sgt. William M. Harrell when the young man she had known since age 5 returned to their Placentia neighborhood after boot camp.
“I realized that he wasn’t a boy anymore; he was a man,” his wife said. “We were soul mates. and we knew it from the very beginning.”
The couple, raised on the same Placentia street, were married in 1994, and have a 7-year-old son, Austin.
Last week, Kelli Harrell had to explain to Austin that his Marine father had been shot in Iraq.
Couldn’t somebody help his father? the boy asked.
He’s with God, his mother said.
William Harrell, 30, was killed April 8 during a gun battle in Al Anbar province, military officials said. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
As of Friday, 684 American soldiers had been killed in Iraq, 548 since major fighting ended May 1.
Harrell is one of 82 soldiers with ties to California who have died.
Harrell’s father died when he was 5, and his mother died last year, his wife said.
Harrell was raised by his uncle, Bernie Robertson, across the street from Kelli’s home on McCormack Lane.
As a young man, Harrell played football, baseball and soccer, and was an avid surfer, camper and fisherman.
“He just loved the outdoors,” his wife said.
Harrell graduated from Placentia’s El Dorado High School in June 1992, and joined the Marines that November.
When he returned from three months of basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Kelli Harrell, 34, said, she saw him with new eyes.
“He was handsome, he was generous, he was kind,” she said. “He was everything you could ever expect a man to be.”
The Marine was stationed first at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and later at Camp Pendleton. He was deployed to Okinawa, Japan, in December and arrived in Iraq last month.
“He was ready to defend his country,” his wife said. “I just want people to realize the sacrifice that he made for them.”
Harrell is also survived by three sisters and six brothers.
He was to be buried Saturday at Fullerton’s Loma Vista Memorial Park.